Fear and fearlessness in Budgam

  • Shabir Ibn Yusuf
  • Publish Date: Apr 25 2017 9:16PM
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  • Updated Date: Apr 25 2017 9:16PM
Fear and fearlessness in Budgam

                                                Illustration by Suhail Naqshbandi/KI

 

‘We will continue to throw stones’

 

Fear is palpable here on every face. The streets in this Central district of Kashmir are no more abuzz even though people are not going to their orchards. Vehicles of security forces too have gone missing, literally.

On April 9, seven youth in the age group 15-25 were shot dead by paramilitary and police. All have been shot in head and families term them target killings.

In Chadoora town, a shopkeeper said that the militant slain their last month was ailing and police and Army. “When they brought out owner of the house, he told police and Army that militant is ailing and he can be arrested,” the shopkeeper, who lives near the encounter site, told Kashmir Ink. “But they razed the house to the ground with heavy bombardment and killed three other people.”

Since then tempers runin entire Chadoora. “Still the people visit the encounter site and the house owner is in police custody.” 

In Sogam village, where a 12 student was killed is still mourning the death despite passing of 13 days. The boy was shot while he was entering the mosque for evening prayers. “Here was no protest at all. CRPF came from somewhere in vehicles and opened fire,” they said. “We are still unable to understand the reason.” 

Muhammad Yousuf, who runs a shop in Sogam market pleads that truth should come out. “Truth is that it was unprovoked firing by CRPF. World must know how they are killing us.” 

Except some middle rung Hurriyat leaders, nobody has visited the family. The family and relatives did not know what police has written in FIR. “They would have written that he was killed during stone pelting,” said Muddasir, who runs a grocery shop in Sogam market. 

Dhalwan, a village located over 40 kilometers in Budgam was first stop. Here two killings took place on that fateful day. Even the track leading to village was engulfed in fear. Those who showed us the way, quickly concluded, “Go straight and take left turn.”

In Dhalwan, where two youth Faizan and Abass were killed, the residents in the morning have offered tea and biscuits to the polling staff and security contingent. “We thought they are strangers and it was duty to host them,” said a group of villagers who had gathered near board erected in the memory of Abass and Faizan. “We never know they will kill our friends in cold blood and without provocation.” 

Dhalwan has been very peaceful and there have been no protests or encounter since over 15 years. Even, when whole Kashmir erupted after the killing of Burhan, the village was peaceful.  “Now let them come to our village we will show them,” say the group of youth, who were offering juice to the visitors.  

While trekking to Dhalwan, entire road is dotted in orchards and almonds trees. There is nobody working in the orchards. “People are frightened and prefer to remain indoors,” said Muhammad Zaman, a Tractor driver who directed us the way to Dhalwan.  “They carried out carnage here.” 

Zaman, says that incase a vehicle of security forces or police pass through any road, there will be violence again.  “Anger is brewing here in Budgam. Youth will continue to throw stones” 

In Beerwah, where a youth Farooq Ahmad Dar was tied to an Army Jeep, people also stay indoors.  “From last two days Army and police is clicking picture. We do not know what will happen,” said Murshid Ahmad, who was peepimg through window of his house when Dar was tied to jeep. “He was crying for help.” 

Murshid said that the Army convoy of three vehicles was moving at snail’s pace with Dar tied to Jeep. “They were gazing at people but nobody confronted them,” he said adding that anger is brewing in villages. “The hue and cry after video has put Army in tight spot.” 

Abdul Khaliq, an elderly man of Beerwah said since then Army dominates most of the areas after 9pm.  Even, he said that they knock at doors of residential houses. “ We have urged the youth not to risk their lives. Life is life,” he said adding that situation has turned explosive after killings and the video. 

Khaliq, is at the same time all praise for National Conference, working president and their MLA, Omar Abdullah. “ All said and done he tweeted the video and that turned into a global debate,” he said adding that otherwise nobody would have inquired about all this. 

However, Muhammad Sikinder, who runs a shop in Beerwah market says that though anger is there but result will be late.  “Now it seems there will be some reaction with gun,” he said adding that the peaceful Budgam atmosphere was vitiated by none other Army, police and Paramilitary force.  “ My experience says that they will be responded with same tune and language, but it may yet take some time.”